Kildare Post Gardening Column – Hampton Court Flower Show Highlights

As you know I had a fantastic visit to the Hampton Court Flower Show in London. Here is my recent gardening column that I wrote on the show for the Kildare Post. An edited version of this article appeared in the Kildare Post on 15 July 2014.

Hampton Court Flower Show Highlights – By David Corscadden

This gardener had a very busy week last week and I am not talking about busy in the garden. I had the opportunity to fly across to London for a few days and visit the Hampton Court Flower Show. A trip to a flower show like that at Hampton Court has been my dream for the last number of years. I have grown up seeing television programmes about the Chelsea Flower Show and about the Hampton Court Flower Show and have always wanted to go myself to experience the atmosphere.

I went on press day, which was the Monday before the show officially opened to on average 130,000 visitors who come each year. While it was quiet when I visited compared to how it would be in the following days there was such a great atmosphere around the place. With such an emphasis on plants and garden design the enthusiasm from all those involved was very contagious. Plus for a person like me, it is rather exciting to walk through the same tent as Monty Don as he films for the BBC and not get in trouble for being there!

With over 34 acres of ground filled with things to see and a floral marquee the size of an FA football pitch packed to the rafters with plants to drool over, I could fill this entire issue of the Kildare Post with everything I want to share with you. And rather than boring you with a rundown of everything I saw there, I have picked some of my top show gardens that I think will prove very popular.

One of the first show gardens I encountered when I arrived at the show was one I did not think was an actual show garden. I thought it was actually a permanent structure on the site that had just been encompassed by the show. But no it was actually a show garden on further inspection. This garden was called ‘The Quiet Mark Treehouse & Garden by John Lewis’ and it was designed by David Domoney. The garden was dominated by the incredible treehouse which offered a bird’s eye view of most of the show grounds. The planting here was very naturalistic and had a wildlife friendly theme to it with many plants included that will encourage wildlife in to the garden.

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Vestra Wealth’s Vista designed by Paul Martin was another garden that tickled my fancy. The garden was a rather modern design that included a number of great elements that could be recreated in other gardens. The planting itself was very soft and worked very well to soften the large amount of hard landscaping. One element that I loved was the gabion wall which was filled with logs that ran along one entire side of the garden. This created a brilliant bench to perch on and enjoy the garden and also doubled as modern art as it was rather beautiful to look at.

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At the Hampton show, certain show gardens all fell under a theme which the designers had to jointly work to. One such was the Your Garden Your Budget theme that saw four garden designers given four realistic garden budgets to work with. Two that stood out for me were the £13,000 garden called Halo and the £15,000 garden called Garden of Solitude.

Halo designed by Stuart Charles Towner is a very Mediterranean style garden with planting that reflects this region. The garden was about entertaining with the fire pit surrounded by low stone wall and seating area situated below the gardens ‘halo’. I loved how the plants just organically grew throughout the gravel and then how the very modern element of the halo contrasted beautifully with the rather traditional planting and stone work.

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For me one of the standout gardens of the show was Garden of Solitude designed by Alexandra Fraggatt. The sunken garden was a very light and airy garden that included raised beds filled with soft coloured flowers and a fantastic garden structure that offered great shapes to the garden. For me this garden lived up to its name and offered a garden of solitude one where you could go and sit undisturbed to think and recharge.

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Of course what would a flower show be without an element of fun and excitement? For me this came from the Conceptual gardens which aimed to inspire and create debate between visitors. The seven gardens all represented one of the seven deadly sins. The one that I thought was the best at representing its given sin and offering visitors a sense of fun and whimsy was Gluttony designed by Katerina Rafaj. While the design was rather fun with its oversized food cans it held a strong message for visitors. The designer set out to highlight the large amount of food consumption and food waste that happens not only in the UK but the entire western world.

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For more highlights from my trip to Hampton Court check out my show garden video on YouTube.

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